Last season began with the 49ers coming into the year with new coach Jim Harbaugh coming in to improve the side and most importantly improve Quarterback Alex Smith immensly. With the Quarterback having his most productive season with the 49ers, throwing 17 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions, Harbaugh brought in a new system with the team buying into it and with it paying dividends, the 49ers going 13-3 in the regular season to earn a playoff birth in the 2011 Divisional Play Offs, meeting up with the highly rated offensive machine, New Orlean Saints and their record breaking Quarterback Drew Brees.
In and epic encounter the 49ers took it up to the saints beating them in the dying seconds with Alex Smith starring in the final play to get them through to the NFC title game and a chance to play in the Superbowl, only to go down in that game to then to be Champions New York Giants by only 3 points, both these games and an outstanding year should hold them in good sted coming into this season with the team knowing that they can match it with the big teams in the regular season and deep into the playoffs.
Draft Picks: Wide Reciever A.J. Jenkins, Running Back Lamichael James, Offensive Guard Joe Looney, Outside Linebacker Darius Fleming, Safety Trent Robinson, Offensive Center Jason Slowey, Defensive End Cam Johnson.
Free Agency Additions:
Running Backs Brandon Jacobs, Brock Cartwright, Wide Recivers Mario Manningham, Randy Moss, Linebacker Eric Bakhitari, Quarterback Josh Johnson, Guard Leonard Davis, Defensive Back Darcel McBath.
Free Agency Losses:
Wide Recievers Long Lance, Braylon Edwards, Josh Morgan, Tight End Justin Peelin, Offensive Guard Chil Rachal, Linebacker Blake Costanzo, Guard Adam Snyder, Free Safety Madieu Williams, Fullback Moran Norris, Defensive Backs Shawntae Spencer, Reggie Smith.
Wide Recievers John Matthews, Dontavia Bogan, Long Snapper Ryan Pontbriand.
The 49ers have one of the most impressive offenses in the NFL with Frank Gore the starting running back having a great season last year averaging 75.7 yards per game and ranking 14th overall in 2012. The 49ers added depth to the running back position during the free agency period adding two verterans in former Oakland Raider Brock Cartwright, a ten year veteran and two time Superbowl player former New York Giant Brandon Jacobs. Both these players will defitnatley help Gore throughtout the year giving him more of a rest and could also lead to Gore being used in plays as a reciever as he did in some snaps last year. Not only did the 49ers look to the Running Back position but also added big time player former New York Giants Wide Reciever Mario Manningham and giving veteran Randy Moss a 1 year deal to help bolster their Wide Reciever stocks and with them already having the very talented Michael Crabtree and what has become Alex Smith's favourtite target Tight End Vernom Davis at their disposal this makes the offense look even more impressive adding veteran and championship experience to the team. These additions can also give the 49ers first round pick in Wide Reciever A.J. Jenkins the luxury of more time to develop.
The big question of the 49ers offensive is if Alex Smith can take his game to the next level this season making more passes down field, with the team being ranked 29th in passing offense last year with these new reciever's being added to the roster there is no doubt that Jim Harbaugh will be looking to his Quarterback to start making more downfield plays to help add flexibility to San Francisco's offense and try to take the predictability of the continuous running game away from opposition teams.
San Francisco's defense has become one of the most feared in the NFL, they show tremendous passion and have a never die attitude.This was tipified last year when they played in the Divisional Playoff Game when Defensive End Justin Smith had Offensive Linemen Jermon Bushrod hanging off him but still managed to make it towards Drew Brees and he brang down the Quarterback with Bushrod still trying to push him back.
The plus with San Francisco's Defense is that they have kept them altogether and will look to repeat their great defensive season last year. Ranking 4th overall in allowing yards per game and only alowing teams 14.3 points per game being 2nd only to the Pitsburgh Steelers. The San Francisco's turnovers were a big part of their defense aswell ranking equal second in the NFL in that area of the game with Cornerback Carlos Rodgers rejuvinating his career in 2011 becoming the 49ers best shutdown corner and amassing 7 interceptions. Putting pressure on Quarterbacks was another specialty of the 49ers defense with rookie Aldon Smith having a break out season, averaging 14 sacks equal 5th and Justin Smith not far behind averaging 7.5. With the Linebackers of Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman, both who have the ability to run and get to the ball quickly from sideline to sideline also, have the speed and agility to drop in pass coverage.
The 49ers secondary was also strengthened with the re-signing of safety Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner helping lead the way. With all these defensive weapons at Coach Harbaughs disposal he and the 49ers will be looking to give coaches and quarterbacks alike a big headache this season.
The San Francisco 49ers have looked to only get stronger ahead of the 2012 season especially where they were fairly weak last year in the passing game.
With the addition of Championship calibre playes in Brandon Jacobs and Mario Manningham, it shows what the 49ers are looking to achieve this year, trying to make it one better from last year and go to Superbowl XLVII.
The schedule for San Francisco is a tough one to start off, taking on the Packers at Green Bay then coming home to play the improving Detroit Lions at Candlestick stadium. Then in round 6 they meet up for the NFC title rematch game against the Superbowl Champions of 2011, the New York Giants. With the 49ers being in the NFC West Division they really don't have much danger with the St. Louise Rams, who still seem to be in a rebuilding phase, the Arizona Cardinals continue to have Quarterback troubles however, and the unknow factor of how the Seattle Seahawks will fair with new Quaterback Matt Flynn, there will more then likely be little competition within the division for San Francisco.
The standards have been set high for San Francisco and there is no doubt they would have Superbowl aspirations, but that all will rely on whether the defense can remain consistent throughout the year and continue on from where they left off last year, if the new offensive weapons gel well, and Alex Smith begins to develop his passing game, takes himself to the next level and starts to show everyone why he was taken as the no.1 Draft Pick in 2005, then there is no reason that the 49ers can not go all the way this year and take the Lombardi Trophy back to Sunny San Francisco.